Mercedes Team Principal Toto Wolff has endured a difficult season as Mercedes continue to languish off the pace. Red Bull and Ferrari have been the leading teams this season, but Wolff has vowed to work “flat out to close the gap”. Speaking about last week’s race in Baku, the Austrian said: “We once again found ourselves clear of the midfield in terms of pace, but a chunk behind the top two teams. “We’re working flat out to close that gap, but with an underperforming package I loved seeing the fight in the team to pull together and get us the best result possible with the tools at hand.
“That spirit will bring us back competing at the front.”
Wolff is used to dominating the sport – Mercedes have won the Constructors’ title every year since 2014.
Despite this, Wolff said in January that at one point he considered quitting F1 during the 2020 season.
He said: “It was ten months that were very difficult for me. Also mentally, I gave everything for almost eight years and felt burnt out to a certain extent.
“In addition, my contract was due to expire and I could have sold my shares. All this led to an inner conflict, ‘Do I want to stay in Formula 1? Can I still make my contribution? Or can someone else do the job better?
“I spent almost a year thinking about that, although ‘thinking about it’ is still a rather positive expression. It was a great deal of self-reflection, also because of the pressure I felt.
“In the end I chose Mercedes and Formula 1, I have found my place here.”
In June 2021, Wolff also spoke about the dilemma in a conversation with ESPN.
Asked if he considered walking away from the sport, Wolff said: “Often.
“Last year I was really beating myself up to come to a decision of whether I wanted to go back in finance and have a hedge fund or continue with my private investment company or stay in motor racing.
“At the end, motor racing won.”
Asked what made him stay, he added: “I think it’s the sheer fact that the stopwatch never lies. You always have a benchmark.
“There are new challenges that are coming and that continue to develop the organisation and the team into the next generation.
“It’s about diversifying the business while not distracting from racing ‒ as a company we are growing at a tremendous rate.
“So it is a fact that we are a sports franchise, only ten exist in a spectacular global sport, and with an enterprise that is Mercedes that’s going to generate $550-600million (£419-457million) in revenue. We are not a small company anymore.
“But still, it all comes down to the lap time, always down to the stopwatch.”
Mercedes can stage comeback mission if they do three things [INSIGHT]
Lewis Hamilton’s warning to Mercedes will come as a relief to Red Bull [ANALYSIS]
Toto Wolff hints major Mercedes overhaul is coming [INSIGHT]
At one stage, there was even speculation that Wolff could step down from his role at Mercedes to take on a role as CEO of F1.
The Austrian even held initial talks with F1’s owners Liberty Media via its CEO Greg Maffei, but ultimately opted against it, pointing out in an interview with F1 in 2020 that “it wouldn’t have gone anywhere anyway because [Mercedes’ rivals] Ferrari wouldn’t have accepted that”.
Eventually, the job was handed to former Ferrari team principal, Stefano Domenicali.
Wolff added: “The job appeals to everybody, but first of all, I think Stefano is the better CEO for such a company.
“He has been the CEO of Lamborghini, has run Scuderia Ferrari and obviously his role at Audi, and he is fantastic for that role.
“I enjoy being a co-shareholder and co-owner of the team that is a franchise and diversifying in many other interesting areas. So I have no regrets at all.
“I think Greg Maffei absolutely took the right decision to go for Stefano and he is better for that job than me.”